How to Write a Compare and Contrast Thesis Statement

Ever been stuck on a thesis statement? Or maybe, you submitted a paper without a thesis and had a professor ask you where it was? No worries, we’ve all been there. You are definitely not the first student to experience this — especially during first years of college. After all, the bar seems so high compared to the standards set in most schools that keeping up proves challenging — even for the brightest and the most industrious of us. This is especially so when it comes to compare and contrast essay. After all, a thesis statement should be just one sentence, right? How do you manage a proper contrast in just one sentence? How do you convey differences and similarities in this one sentence? It may indeed prove tough. The good news is that we’re ready to help you figure out what makes a good thesis for a compare and contrast essay, so read on.

It’s all about the argument

Whenever you sit down to work on an essay, look for an argument. Yes, you heard it right — argument. Everything can be turned into one, and that is exactly what you should be focusing on if you are trying to write an A+ essay.

The argument is important because it presents the main point you are trying to make in an essay. The more contradictory it is, the better. This way, you have a chance of getting your audience genuinely interested in your paper.

You may also want to think about the argument as your main claim. You make a certain claim in the thesis statement and, further on, you will be backing that claim with factual evidence. Depending on the subject, you may use scientific evidence or personal life example — the actual evidence may differ.

Still, for a compare and contrast essay, scientific proof is hardly ever necessary. And, even if your subject calls for it, the major challenge is to make a compelling statement. So, let’s focus on this part for now.

Let’s start with a simple example — try to compare lions and zebras.



live in Africa

live in Africa



live in small prides

live in large herds

fight back when attacked

run when attacked

The chances are — if somebody gave you this list, you’d think it is a total waste of time. After all, who would compare lions and zebras? It’s pretty clear they have nothing in common! That is, except natural habitat (psss… both are also mammals, by the way).

Still, there is a method to this madness, and this method can help you write a strong thesis for a compare and contrast essay. Remember, your professor expects you to contrast and compare with a purpose.

Figuring out a thesis for a compare and contrast essay

Coming up with a great thesis statement is associated with a great deal of preparatory work. Here are some tips that should help:

  • Choose subjects that interest you: this way, you will be able to spot more details, which will definitely give your paper a compelling edge
  • always ask the ‘so what?’ question: after you have chosen your objects of comparison, think if contrasting the two will have any value for your audience. There should be a purpose, remember? Why are you comparing the two in the first place?

Let’s say, you are making this statement:

Both Frodo Baggins and Harry Potter are presented as unwilling heroes who still manage to live up to the challenge.

So what?

Well, because….

It proves that a man can achieve impossible heights in the face of difficulties.

See? Now, we’re getting somewhere meaningful — that is, to a point our audience may care about.

Find the right methods for the job

A compare and contrast essay is a very creative kind of paper. Here, a lot depends on the writer’s imagination. So, there is no universal scheme that fits all. Instead, there is a range of methods that can make a paper impressive. However, you should first settle on your objects of comparison. They, too, can be very different. Let’s take a closer look.

Possible approaches to comparison

Your approaches to comparison will mostly depend on the objects you are contrasting. Those can be:

Different objects from the same category

  • Two types of cars
  • Two types of coffee shops

Objects that seem different but have a lot in common

  • Two painting techniques
  • Two related languages

Objects that seem the same but are, in fact, very different

  • Fight Club movie vs. Fight Club novel
  • or any other book adaptation for the screen (or the stage)

Introducing the thesis

Depending on your objects of comparison, the approach to introducing a thesis may be quite different. For example, when contrasting seemingly different things (like lions and zebras), you could say:

Even though lions and zebras seem to have nothing in common, there are remarkable similarities between the two.

Or, when contrasting things that only seem different, you could say.

Even though David Fincher’s adaption of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club seems remarkably close to the original, movie ending sends a drastically different message as opposed to the novel.

Both of these examples should help you introduce the thesis statement. But what’s next?

Methods to presenting a thesis

Now, it is time to formulate the thesis. But, before you do, you have to choose methods of comparison, which, too, can vary a bit.

One by one

This comparison method is used for smaller essays, as it first describes the first object, and them moves to the other one. For example:

David Fincher’s Fight Club

  • Rebellious
  • Ironic
  • Optimistic ending

Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club

  • Rebellious
  • Serious
  • Pessimistic ending

Aspect by aspect

Or, you could choose to contrast and compare both movies by aspects. This way, our essay structure would like this:

Overall message (rebellious)

  • David Fincher’s Fight Club
  • Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club

Atmosphere (ironic vs. serious)

  • David Fincher’s Fight Club
  • Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club

Final message (optimistic vs. pessimistic)

  • David Fincher’s Fight Club
  • Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club

As you can see, the second pattern allows for a longer and more detailed essay. However, both of them work fine in a compare and contrast essay.

The writing process

Now that you have some idea on how to write a compare and contrast thesis statement (as well as how to structure your paper), let’s focus on a few tips to make your writing process easier.


This is a crucial stage that should help you come up with a perfect essay. Do not rush when choosing a topic (if you are free to choose). Give yourself some time to think — the first idea is not always the best one.


Once you have defined the subject, draw a quick outline of your paper. You do not have to get into detail — just a sketch, similar to the example above will do.

Bottom line

Now, that you have your objects to compare and the plan to follow, you can create a compelling thesis statement. And by the way, in case of compare and contrast papers, it can run for two sentences instead of one. Otherwise, the logic is pretty much the same as with any other essay. Your paper will have:

  • Introduction with a thesis
  • Body paragraphs
  • And conclusion

That’s pretty much it! But, of course, if you need extra help with writing an essay, our professional team is always ready to assist!